By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Sober since 10/10/90
Great job, M.T. I have 12 years in NA. I feel at home there, and it works for me. I came to NA through AA. They told me that I didn't belong in their fellowship, and should go to NA. I carried a resentment for a long time, but now I am grateful to those old-timers who led me to my home. Thanks for the info. I never knew Bill W. did LSD. Wow!
Bill W. loved his LSD. In the mid-to-late '50s, when he tripped regularly, Bill turned down a request from an unknown Harvard academic named Timothy Leary for a score of acidthis at a time when the conservative, white-bread Reader's Digestran a story praising a wonderful new substance that promised to unlock the doors to understanding mental illness. Bill quit LSD by the end of the decade when news of dangerous side effects of the drug started to emergepeople jumping out of windows thinking they could fly, etc.
Bill was always looking for a chemical solution for the ills of the world. At the time of his retirement from AA World Services, he was asked not to use AA stationery to promote his view that massive amounts of niacin might be the long sought answer to everything.
What's the big deal? In 30 years in New York AA, I've never had a problem talking about other drugs.
Lower East Side
MEETING IN THE SKY
Hats off to M.T. As a younger member of AA, I know exactly what she is talking about. I have seen it in Virginia, Kansas, and Minnesotaall places that I have lived in my six years of sobriety. I understand the myopic self-righteousness that can exist, and know that a lot of addicts would rather be right than happy. I truly believe that as the "old guard" goes off to that big meeting in the sky, the issue of exactly what addiction is is will become obsolete.
St. Paul, Minnesota
I am a member of AA, and have been sober for over four years. I joined in Australia, then attended meetings in England, all over Europe, in South Africa, and in the U.S. Never have I heard anyone with drug addiction and alcohol problems stopped from sharing. Most members have had experience with drugs and many see drugs as their primary addictionbut the same solution works, so why quibble about the definition of the illness. Also, sobriety is defined by the vast majority in AA as being free of any mood-altering substance, and people who continue to smoke pot after they stop drinking are normally not considered sober by other members. If NA is growing faster than AA, that is great. But there are still a lot young people (I'm in my twenties) who loved boozing the most, so AA is by no means redundant.
The question is not "Is AA perfect?" It is "Does AA help people?" I am an NA member who was saved by AA until we could get our meetings off the ground. It is true that many AA meetings don't permit sharing about drug use, and this can be a major turnoff for newcomers. However, NA is far from free of its own nuances. Just try to say the word "sober" in an NA meeting and you'll know what I mean.
12 AND 12-
As a 12-year member of NA I would like to thank you most profoundly for this article. Through the years I have heard that 12-step programs are all the same; it doesn't matter where you go. I go solely to NA because I don't get any grief from anybody about which drug I used or didn't use. In fact, "war stories" are discouraged and emphasis is placed on sharing recovery.
Most "purists" like myself give AA its due for our foundation, but realize that we don't belong in a singularly focused program. In fact, we can't afford to be so narrow-minded. For addicts, this can be life-threatening. Recovery can be found.
Prairie Grove, Arkansas
SHARING THE BLAME
I'm disappointed that the Voice would publish an article like "AA Unmasked." I've been a member of AA for almost seven years. I'm a drug addict and an alcoholic and have never found any resistance to talking about drugs in an AA meeting. What I have found a resistance to is non-alcoholics participating in meetings. Why, when there is another program set up specifically for non-alcoholic drug addicts, would someone who doesn't identify themselves as an alcoholic want to attend AA? For those of us who were dually addicted, the question becomes which program better suits our needs.
The problems posed by M.T. don't exist in my home group. We have loads of people identifying as "addicts." There is no crotchety old man rapping on the table, no signs telling people to talk only about alcohol. What there is is an environment where people can find freedom from alcohol and drugs in a fellowship that offers a new life.